Drug war carries high price and no return on investment

As a retired police detective who works the Hill to end all drug prohibition, I appreciate the work of my colleague Aaron Houston (article, “The Marijuana Lobbyist,” July 18). My profession has spent just over $1 trillion to arrest 36 million Americans on drug charges and fill hundreds of warehouses full of dope. The return on that investment? Zero. Drugs today are cheaper, stronger and much easier to buy. A drug policy based on personal responsibility, limited government and states’ rights would be preferable to current prohibition.

By the way, I last smoked cannabis 29 years ago, just before I entered the police academy.

~From Howard J. Wooldridge, education specialist, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Frederick, Md.

ACORN, voting are sources of dispute

Writing on The Hill’s Pundits Blog, Karen Hanretty wraps up a paragraph of personal invective against John Edwards (“Edwards Anti-Poverty Campaign as Empty as His Suit,” July 16) with an outright falsehood directed at the national community group ACORN. Contrary to her statement, ACORN was neither “found guilty of election fraud in the last election” nor charged by any law enforcement official with any such thing.

Here is what ACORN did do in 2006: help over 540,000 minority, low-income and young citizens apply to become registered voters; run a careful quality-checking program of all applications we collected; successfully back minimum-wage increase ballot initiatives in four states; and face down a smear campaign from partisan operatives unhappy about all these activities.

While Ms. Hanretty has a right to dislike any candidate or community group she chooses, she, and a reputable publication like The Hill, have a responsibility to refrain from malicious falsehoods, even in the course of punditry.

A “side note” of our own: Edwards was pictured in The New York Times walking through the New Orleans’s 9th ward with ACORN members to see the new homes built in an ACORN-organized post-Katrina reconstruction project. The new homes, and the families who live in them, are very real — unlike the urban legends that voter suppression advocates continue to circulate.

~From Maude Hurd, ACORN president, Boston

Karen Hanretty responds:
The number of indictments and convictions of ACORN workers for voter fraud are simply too numerous to recount in this brief space. But since ACORN seems so intent on arguing the point, let’s shine a bright light on some of their recent run-ins with the law.

In May of this year, an article in the Kansas City (Mo.) Daily Record had the following headline: “Third ACORN worker pleads guilty to voter fraud.” The article said, “The third of four Kansas City voter-registration workers who were the subject of controversial indictment for voter-registration fraud just before the November 2006 election has pleaded guilty, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Western Missouri announced.”

Last month, the same newspaper reported yet another conviction of voter registration fraud. And just this past Saturday, July 21, The Seattle Times reported two criminal investigations in Pierce and King counties of “hundreds of voter registration cards” that were turned in to elections officials in 2006 by ACORN.

Voter fraud remains a serious and persistent problem with ACORN. Last year’s election was hardly an anomaly.